Top 5 Most Toxic Ingredients To Avoid

Contributor: Courtney O'Conner
Photographer: Primally Pure
date here

Detox is a word that’s used on the regular these days. We know the reality of toxic buildup in our bodies, that it’s not good for us and that it needs to get out. Toxins build up because our bodies don’t know how to absorb + assimilate these foreign ingredients, so they continue to circulate, putting strain on our bodies, rather than becoming food and nourishment for our cells.

Believe it or not, conventional beauty + body products can actually be one of the biggest contributors to our toxic load. But before we get into some technical terms and the top toxic skincare ingredients to avoid, let’s look at the WHY behind it all.

There are countless pollutants in our environment that we can’t control, so it’s important to be conscious of the choices we can make and to avoid contributing to the toxic buildup in our bodies – with what we put on our plates and apply to our skin. Our bodies can handle occasional chemicals but when exposed consistently and daily, disease and health conditions are more likely to occur.

Since the beauty industry is largely unregulated (the last legislation passed to regulate safety of cosmetics was over 80 years ago!), it’s up to you to do your own research to find the safest products. There are no legal standards for personal care products labeled as “pure,” “natural” or “organic,” so it’s time to look beyond the marketing claims and start to read labels carefully.

We know it’s a lot to take in – so we’ll simplify what to look for on your product labels and help you detox your beauty bag. The following are five specific chemicals you absolutely want to avoid in your skincare products.

 

FRAGRANCE/PARFUM

We get it, we all want to smell fresh + floral! But these engineered scents can contain any combination of 3,000+ chemical ingredients, including hormone disruptors and allergens. Fragrance formulas are protected under federal law’s classification of trade secrets and therefore can remain undisclosed. That smells a little fishy to us, rather than floral. 

MEA (Monoethanolamine), DEA (Diethanolamine), or TEA (Triethanolamine)

These acronyms act as emulsifiers (prevents separation of ingredients) and surfactants (foaming agents). In our mind, any ingredient that needs an acronym on a product label is toxic material. Often found in cleansers, fragrances and makeup, they are linked to allergies, skin toxicity, hormone disruption and birth defects.

PEG COMPOUNDS

PEG compounds have several functions in skincare such as humectants (attracts moisture), surfactants, emulsifiers and penetration enhancers (increases product absorption into skin). Sounds like all good things, right? Well, when these chemical compounds may be contaminated with carcinogens, they actually help to carry these impurities through the skin and into the bloodstream with the possibility of contributing to birth defects and infertility.

PHTHALATES

These plasticizing chemicals make products pliable and fragrances stick to skin, so we can smell good all day long. But with dangers of endocrine disruption, respiratory toxicity, birth defects and infertility, we don’t want this sticking to our skin, ever. Look for these acronyms (alert!) on labels: DBP, DEHP, DMP, DEP. It’s also commonly hidden under “fragrance” or “parfum” – remember, those are code words for “chemical cocktail”. 

TALC

Often contaminated with asbestos (a highly toxic mineral), it’s health concerns are high and can include skin irritations, organ system toxicity, respiratory distress and serious cancer risks. Found in everyday powder products such as baby powder, deodorant, dry shampoos and mineral makeup, it helps to absorb moisture and prevent caking – but we really don’t think the risks are worth it.

With ingredient lists containing chemicals like these listed above and their link to a number of health conditions + diseases, it’s no question why hormone imbalances, infertility, cancer, birth defects, acne and allergies are SERIOUSLY on the rise. Be kind to your body by avoiding these top toxic ingredients in skincare. 

So, now for some good news!

Safe alternatives are available and there are steps you can take to detox + reduce toxic exposure on your skin and in your body. The benefits? Expect to experience a positive difference in hormone health, energy, adrenal glands, pms symptoms and clearer skin – just to name a few!

We’re meant to put ingredients in (and on!) our body that nourish, strengthen and repair, so look for pure, simple, short ingredient lists on labels – with words you can actually pronounce and understand! We are firm believers that fewer is better. And that real + recognizable ingredients really do provide lasting results without sacrificing your health or well-being.

Detox Tip: To find out whether your go-to products are safe or not, try Think Dirty’s Shop Clean App. This easy-to-use resource ranks the safety of specific products on a scale of 1-10.

Balancing Hormones Naturally: Foods That Heal

Contributor: Caroline Potter
Photographer: Primally Pure
date here

Providing our hormones with the raw materials they need to build, balance and perform their various tasks is a crucial step in balancing our hormones. Thankfully, our hormones desperately want to balance and work efficiently for us, so with a little love and care plus consuming these 6 foods for hormone health, you will be amazed at the results!

Remember, taking care of your self, encouraging a positive mindset and working to eliminate stress is just as important as the food on your plate.

Here are the top 6 foods to boost hormone health!

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MINERAL RICH SEA SALT

Your adrenal glands hold the keys to your stress response as well as play a vital role in your hormone health. Without working to balance your adrenals first, your hormone health will never reach its full potential! 

One of the functions of the adrenal glands is to control your sodium-potassium levels and thus the fluid balance in your body, which also helps regulate blood pressure. This is done through aldosterone, a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Aldosterone regulates blood pressure according to stress levels—this is why blood pressure generally rises in stressful situations.

Consuming mineral rich, pure salt (not bleached table salt) will provide the adrenals with the raw materials they need to function and thus help balance the body’s natural stress response. Pure, mineral rich salt is balanced in minerals so that your body receives exactly what it needs.

When the body is in adrenal imbalance, you must be very careful not to over consume water as that can actually dehydrate you. Often the body simply needs more minerals to retain the water, not actually more water.

BRAZIL NUTS

Brazil nuts are the best source of selenium, an important mineral crucial to your thyroid health, especially in converting T4 into the active thyroid hormone T3. Thyroid health is crucial to balancing hormones in general and selenium can act as a catalyst to thyroid functioning and metabolism. Selenium is anti-inflammatory and can help calm inflammation in the body and thus keep the immune system strong and skin balanced.

It only takes 1-2 Brazil nuts per day to give your body the selenium it needs and keep your thyroid hormones and immune system balanced. You can also make Brazil Nut Milk for a creamy, dairy-free milk alternative.

QUALITY, NOURISHING FATS

Your sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone) and adrenal hormones (cortisol) are cholesterol derived hormones meaning they are made from essential fatty acids. In simple terms, these hormones are made from cholesterol. So yes, those avocado slices and spoonfuls of Hollandaise are providing your hormones with the raw materials they need to build, balance and thrive.

Grass-fed butter/ghee, duck fat, beef or pork tallow, olive oil, avocados, avocado oil, avocado oil mayo, nuts and seeds, whole eggs, raw/grass-fed cheeses are the best dietary sources of quality nourishing fats. 

CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES

This family of flowering vegetables (brussels sprouts, cabbage, arugula, boy choy, broccoli, etc) is rich in sulphur, which helps detoxify the liver, cleanse excess estrogen, promote digestion, and give your skin a healthy glow. The liver plays a crucial role in hormone health as it helps balance and detoxify excess estrogen. 

Please note, cruciferous vegetables can be difficult to digest as well as contain thyroid hormone inhibitors in their raw state, which is why I highly recommend always eating them cooked.

LOW GLYCEMIC CARBOHYDRATES

Missed periods, change in body temperature, sleep imbalances, difficult periods, weight gain, weight loss plateau poor performance during a workout or poor recovery after a workout, or exhaustion can be a few signs that you may need more low glycemic nourishing carbohydrates in your daily diet. 

First, for those already with adrenal fatigue, prolonged low-carbohydrate diets can create stress and worsen the situation by causing the adrenals to pump out more cortisol in an effort to balance blood sugar, sustain life and proper brain functioning. 

Second, the liver also needs adequate glycogen to metabolize and detoxify estrogen and other hormones properly—thus consuming carbohydrates is necessary for glycogen storage. Especially during periods of higher stress, our liver needs more nourishing, unrefined carbohydrates to balance blood sugar. 

Now this does not mean that carbohydrates, even the nourishing ones, should be the center of your diet as that can severely impact blood sugar and hormones, but rather consuming an appropriate amount of nourishing carbohydrates, quality protein, fiber and fat will help keep hormones balanced.

Winter squash (butternut, kabocha, acorn), sweet potatoes, berries, avocados, cashews, whole-fat plain yogurt, peppers, green beans, tomatoes are my personal favorite, lower glycemic carbohydrates to consume daily.

ADAPTOGENS

Adaptogens are gaining a lot of popularity recently, but truthfully have been used for centuries as ancient cultures recognized their incredible benefits. Adaptogens help the body adapt to incoming stressors or changes in the environment and have an incredible balancing effect on hormones. There are quite a few adaptogens, but for female hormones, these are my favorites.

Maca: This Peruvian superfood is fabulous for boosting energy, especially during those afternoon sugar cravings, balancing hormones and boosting the immune system. It has a lightly sweet, slightly smoky taste so I love adding it into smoothies with a bit of raw cacao powder or even bulletproof coffee.

Ashwagandha: This adrenal boosting superfood helps regulate the body towards normal functioning meaning it can “read” the body’s internal environment, providing a boost for those that are exhausted or act as a calming agent for those needing to cope with stress. Ashwagandha is apart of the nightshade family, so those with sensitives should avoid.

Cordyceps: Cordyceps are a type of fungus closely associated with medicinal, nutritionally beneficial mushrooms and have long been prized in Chinese medicine. This adaptogen has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, helps the body fight stress or fatigue, boosts stamina and improves liver detoxification. Other mushroom adaptogens are chug, shiitake, lion’s mane and reishi.

You only need a little bit—approximately 1-/4 to 1/2 tsp does the trick, except for maca which about 1 tsp can be consumed at a time.

Fig + Burrata

Contributor: Lacy Phillips
Photographer: Lacy Phillips
date here

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FIG + BURRATA

2 figs | washed and sliced thin vertical

Raw grass-fed burrata

Olive oil 

Vinegar of choice (I opted for traditional balsamic)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Squeeze of half a lime

Thyme 

PROCESS | assemble figs and burrata in your creative fashion of choice. Drizzle your olive oil, balsamic & lime.  Top with salt, pepper, thyme, and pretend that you are enjoying this with a crisp rose in the South of France. 

MODIFY | for true food pairing sticklers and diehard plant-based eater, swap the burrata for avocado and heirloom tomatoes. 

Context For Spiritual Life

Contributor: Greg Richardson
Photographer: Saffron & Sage
date here

Spiritual life is larger than we are. We find it intimidating, even overwhelming, that we cannot see all of spiritual life at once. It is more than what our senses, even our common sense, can grasp.

Spiritual life is beyond our understanding and our control.

We are often more attracted to what we are able to organize and categorize. It is easier for us to trust what our senses tell us, what we experience.

Life has taught many of us to leave spiritual life alone. We may have been raised in ways which made spiritual life unappealing to us. Spiritual life might have become a source of embarrassment, or fear, or shame, or guilt. None of those feelings encourage us to want to experience more.

We may approach spiritual life as an academic exercise. It is as if spiritual life is a challenging puzzle or mathematical equation for us to solve. We work away and the equation seems to develop more complexity as we try to solve it.

For some of us, spiritual life has become a complicated set of rules for us to follow. We stand aside, rolling out eyes, as other people argue about which rules are most important.

Our exposure to spiritual life in the past does not engage our deepest selves. It can be a challenge for us to figure out why anyone cares about spiritual life.

We struggle to find the life in the spiritual life we experience. Spiritual life, as we see it, does not connect with us at a particularly deep level.

The way we experience spiritual life is often limited by our own perspective. The context in which we view spiritual life obscures its depth for us.

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Speaking Out of Context

Each of us experiences spiritual life within our own context. Our experiences, opinions, thoughts, and ideas provide a framework for our perspectives.

Spiritual life does not spring up for us brand new without context. Each contact we have had with spiritual life throughout our lives shapes the way we understand it. The challenge for us is to recognize and appreciate our own context.

The way we respond to spiritual life may be at odds with how someone else responds to it. An aspect of spiritual life they find comforting may cause distress for us. Something they find troublesome may be one of our most deeply held and valued beliefs.

It is not spiritual life which is inconsistent when our contexts come into conflict with each other. We understand the same things in our own unique ways.

People often overlook the context through which they view spiritual life.

How do we describe our own context, for spiritual life or anything else? We need to take a look at the framework through which we see.

Because our context is based in our experiences, we begin by telling our stories. When I work with people they generally give me a version of their spiritual autobiography. I listen and ask questions as they describe their experiences.

Our context is the framework we use to explain how things work. Telling our stories describes how we built our own personal context. We may have set out intentionally to design and construct particular aspects of how we see things. Some parts may be based in unplanned experiences we had hoped to avoid.

By listening to people tell their stories and asking questions, we spark their reflection. Reflecting allows us to see how the parts of our context fit together.

Putting Spiritual Life Into Context

The powerful flow of spiritual life is all around us and within us. It is easy for us to miss spiritual life because it is larger than our expectations.

We look out the small window of our context for what we think spiritual life is like. When we see something other than what we expect, we assume spiritual life is not there.

We miss the presence of spiritual life because it does not fit within our context.

It is only as we adapt and expand our context that spiritual life fits within it. We question the meanings we have given our experiences and our context grows to recognize spiritual life.

Some of us close our eyes and become skeptical because we do not find spiritual life in context. When spiritual life does not fit into our context we conclude it does not exist.

We get embarrassed or afraid when we do not understand as much as we thought we did. Our context tells us life should work in certain ways and we depend on our context.

Expanding the Shape of Our Context

It is important for our context of spiritual life to support us and not get in our way. Reflecting allows us to restructure and expand the shape of our context of spiritual life.

We can get stuck in how we expect to experience spiritual life. It is one thing to remember how spiritual life has felt for us in the past. Our past experience does not necessarily predict our future possibilities.

Fortunately, we can change the way we experience spiritual life. Our expectations based on previous experience cannot control how spiritual life works in us.

As we reflect on our experience and expectations we learn lessons which change how we live.

We can decide to trust spiritual life more than we trust our context of spiritual life.

What are your expectations of how spiritual life behaves?

How would we describe our context of spiritual life today?

Roasted Barely Tea

Contributor: Lacy Phillips
Photographer: Lacy Phillips
date here

This staple in China (maicha), Japan (mugicha), and Korea (boricha), has been revered since the beginning of time for its blood cleansing and circulating properties along with its abundant antioxidants.  I look forward to making this a fall and winter staple. 

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ROASTED BARLEY TEA

1/2 c Organic Pearl Barley

1/2 gallon of purified water

PROCESS | distribute dry barley in a cast iron or enamel evenly.  Heat stove to medium.  Use a wooden spoon to constantly mix barley until it has reached a golden brown-to darker brown roasted color.  The darker the roast, the more smokey the flavor and color of the tea will be.  Bring a pot with water to a boil.  Place roasted barley inside water and decoct (simmer) on low for 11 minutes.  Strain and enjoy.  If you prefer chilled during this heat, keep in refrigerator. 

BENEFITS | regulates and enhances blood fluidity | antioxidant rich (vitamin A & C) | high in selenium | antibacterial | blood cleansing | digestive aid as a natural antacid | sleep aid | male fertility strengthening 

Inward Intuition

Contributor: Lacy Phillips
Photographer: Lacy Phillips
date here

MENTAL HEALTH DAYS

(strengthening my intuition)

These days are when I take all obligations and throw them to the wind. Literally by pressing pause on them. Monday was a version of that for me. No blog post came out. No emails answered. Nothing that I felt forced to do. The first thing that stunts my Aquarian intuitive antennas are freedom restrictions.

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On these days, I ONLY listen to what my body, heart, and soul needs. What they are asking for and being unapologetic about doing them. From bed to books to actions – whatever! I honor my intuition by following all needs and pings so as to heighten and activate them.

NO

I say no to any vices. Mine happen to be treats, shopping, and social media. These are things I crave mindlessly consuming when I want to soothe or patch up feelings coming up in my body. But like all of you know from here, those negative feelings are the direct compass of what needs shifting. And in order to get clarity, they need to be felt and honored. Sitting in them, accepting them, and then investigating them allows my intuition to strengthen more.

YES

I say yes to anything that is downloading through me. I DO NOT SECOND guess it. Especially random pings. I follow all of them, I honor them, and I ponder them. I stick them in my notes so that I don’t lose them, and so that I can come back to them and do or go where they have guided me.

NATURE

Nature is one of the few places where I feel like I don’t have pressure on me. Pressure and obligations are my biggest intuitive killers. I will sit in nature until I feel the pressure fade, I will journal and I will listen.

INWARD

Most of all, I honor that during these times, I’m going through a major transformation. Transformations feel scary, depressing, weird, and out of control if you are unfamiliar with them. It’s because aspects of the ego are dying and your authentic self - that hasn’t been nurtured by society or parental modeling - is surfacing and it doesn’t feel safe or confident. During these times, I usually don’t like to go to social engagements. I prefer to eat at home. I like to be in my transformative cocoon. And just like that, I'll know when it’s time to emerge into the world again and fly.

You'll notice that nowhere in here did I need fancy spiritual materialism. No crystals, nothing but myself. Those are beautiful enhancements, but nothing is needed to strengthen your intuition other than your own inner compass and getting quiet enough to listen. 

Greater Depths

Contributor: Greg Richardson
Photographer: Saffron & Sage
date here

It feels like we have spent our time paddling around in the shallow waters for too long.

It is as if, as the end of summer draws into view, we have spent all our time on the beach. The sun is warm and the breeze is pleasant, but the deep water calls to us. We were made for more than sitting on the sand. The greater depths of the water connect to the greater depths within us.

Are we ready to answer the call to explore the greater depths?

The challenges of going deeper may intimidate us. Greater depths could cause us to lose control, to go beyond where we are comfortable. There are things in the deeper waters we do not want to face directly. Are we strong enough or well enough prepared?

Standing on the shore we cannot see where exploring the greater depths will take us. What will happen if they lead us further than we can handle?

What is it about greater depths which makes us fear going further?

Even though we are anxious or intimidated, we cannot look away. The power of the depths captures our attention and draws us toward the water. We cannot look away. Our imaginations wonder about all the places we might go.

Spiritual life is like the ocean. It may be pleasant to spend time in the sun on the beach. Our imagination is captured by the greater depths.

We may be comfortable on the sand. The greater depths call us to something more.

What would it be like to respond to the call and explore the greater depths of spiritual life?

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Getting Ready to Explore the Greater Depths

Being ready to explore the greater depths is more than just deciding to jump in and start.

There is effort between the boy on shore looking out over the ocean and starting. We want to be prepared to take on something which intimidates us, which we find challenging. It can be helpful to work with someone who can guide us and show us how to get ready.

Like people preparing to set off out to sea, we train to deal with the greater spiritual depths.

Some people practice traditional spiritual disciplines to become more open to depth. They may follow prayer practices, reflective reading, meditation, or periods of stillness. There are also more active practices like feeding hungry people or expanding social justice. These practices often have immediate benefits as well as preparing us for something more.

Many of these disciplines can be interpreted and practiced in more contemporary ways. Some of us visit monasteries or volunteer for specific programs. Other people regularly spend time in nature or provide meals for people living on the street. Each of us applies the disciplines we follow in the unique ways which give us meaning.

As we practice our disciplines over time, many of us find ourselves drawn to something deeper. We may begin to find a discipline we have enjoyed in the past begins to feel dry or routine. Some people may feel guilty or ashamed because they are not able to sustain a dedicated practice.

In fact, the spiritual disciplines we practice are not ends in themselves. As with physical exercise, spiritual practices help prepare us for greater depths.

Most of us do not run or lift weights to become the greatest runners or weight lifters. Our practices are means to an end, steps which prepare us for something more.

How We Prepare for the Greater Depths

The spiritual disciplines we practice are not sacred in themselves. It is not as if repeating a practice so many times a day, every day, earns us greater spiritual life. We find the practices which are ways for us to take time and we become more open to what draws us.

Pauses to listen to stillness are reminders of what draws me into spiritual life. Taking a deep breath, setting aside time for reflection and contemplation, are steps forward. It is as if I need to stop and remember what is important and why I am doing this.

Being busy tends to pull me out of myself and into focusing on goals and objectives. The practices in which I stop and look out toward the greater depth help restore me to myself.

It is easy for us to get caught up in the smallest pictures. We become so concentrated on details and minutiae we lose sight of the far horizon. It is easy for us to strain at a grain of sand and forget about the ocean.

Our lives get absorbed by How? and When? rather than Why?

While we practice the greater depths we intentionally allow smaller concerns to pass. Our universe does not revolve around us. There are greater, deeper powers at work.

Recognizing the greater depths around, and within, me is an essential part of spiritual life.

Where Do We Find Our Greater Depths?

Life is too short to spend it stuck in the shallows. The point and meaning of our lives is in the greater depths.

We need to schedule time for ourselves to look out over the ocean. We do not want to spend the entire summer sitting on the beach without ever looking out.

Spiritual life calls to us, drawing us toward the greater depths. It is fine to sit in the sun reading a good book, but that is only a taste. We smell the ocean and enjoy the warmth of the sun, but there is more.

There are greater depths in us which we have yet to explore.

When do you stop and look out toward the greater depths?

What is drawing us to go deeper this week?

Full Moon in Taurus

Contributor: Cristin D. Smith
Photographer: Saffron & Sage
date here

The November Full Moon is known as the Beaver Moon. Algonquin tribes gave the November moon its name because it coincided with the time of year when they would set traps for beavers to ensure they had enough furs to last through Winter.  It is also referred to as the Full Frost Moon as this was around the time when the first frost comes.

As the weather continues to cool this Frost Moon in Taurus beckons us to hold fast to what is unfolding before us and be present in the moment. 

The Taurus energy creates a container for the ocean of emotion that Scorpio brings forth; therefore inviting us to look down and explore what lies within. This Moon highlights Autumn's invitation to grieve for what never was or what can no longer be. What wisdom is coming forth from letting go? What grace is being given as you move forward?

It's important to shift our attention away from what we're "losing" or "letting go of" and to our own inner beauty and embrace our power. Now is the time to connect deeply with your true essence and remember your worth.

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When we let go of what no longer serves us we do well to return to our desires. What is it we are really after? What is the essence of our longing? 

This Full Moon draws us deeper into the mystery of our desire and how that ties into our purpose. The theme is alignment and in order for that to occur we have to eliminate and remove that which is hindering harmony. 

You might find yourself flooded with emotion this lunar cycle. The trick is to bring awareness to these experiences and give them a name. By identifying them we reduce the emotional toll they take and turn towards stability. In addition to identification we can find stability by stepping into spaces like forests. Sit next to a stream or a tree. These places more deeply connect us to the Beaver Moon and her qualities bringing strength and stability. 

This is a great time to use grounding essential oils like Balance or Cedarwood. These oils pass on the energetic properties of these plants enhancing our embrace of calm, connection and creation. 

While using the oils or out in nature explore the foundation you are standing on and what you stand for. 

Spend some time exploring your values. Name 5 of your core values. 

By identifying our values we connect more deeply to our true nature and come closer to living congruently with our heart's desire.  

To enhance your experience of the Full Moon you can join us for our Full Moon Circle & Cacao Ceremony this evening.